10 Best Episodes of ‘Mad Men,’ Now 15 Years Old
A fateful LSD trip, a horse-meat scandal, a lecherous Jaguar exec, a workplace tragedy, and a musical send-off—all of these feature in IMDb voters’ picks for the best episodes of Mad Men.
The critically lauded AMC drama, about the personal and professional lives of advertising executives in 1960s New York, debuted 15 years ago on July 19, 2007. That first episode got a warm reception, of course, but few at the time could have predicted Mad Men would be a cultural touchstone that redefined what basic cable could achieve. (For starters, Mad Men became the first basic-cable show to take home the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series with its 2008 victory, the first of four consecutive wins in the category.)
Here are those fan-favorite episodes, all of which have scores of 9.1/10.0 or higher on IMDb.
10. Season 5, Episode 6: “Far Away Places”
Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) blows off work after a frustrating pitch meeting, Roger (John Slattery) and Jane (Peyton List) reach a new understanding about their marriage during an LSD trip, and Don (Jon Hamm) panics when he and Megan (Jessica Paré) get separated on a trip. On IMDb, a reviewer hails the “three storylines that all…captivate the viewers because there are five seasons of development at play.”
9. Season 6, Episode 13: “In Care Of”
As Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) ruins a meeting with Chevrolet, Don gets candid in a pitch to Hershey, revealing sordid details about his upbringing to his coworkers and, later, his family. One IMDb user calls this episode an “excellent, engaging, endearing ending” to Season 6.
8. Season 7, Episode 13: “The Milk and Honey Route”
Don goes AWOL for days in Oklahoma, while Pete gets an intriguing job offer from Learjet and Betty (January Jones) receives distressing news about her health. “‘The Milk and Honey Route’ brings us one step closer to closure, attempting to shed some light into where are heroes are going and what is really bothering and motivating them,” an IMDb user writes in a 10-star review.
7. Season 3, Episode 11: “The Gypsy and the Hobo”
As Sterling Cooper helps a dog-food brand recover from a horse-meat scandal, Don finally tells Betty about his true identity after she confronts him with evidence of his hidden past. “This episode was downright phenomenal,” one fan raves. “It was seriously some of the best television I’ve ever seen.”
6. Season 7, Episode 14: “Person to Person”
In the series finale, Joan starts her own company, Peggy gets together with Stan (Jay R. Ferguson), and Don finds new inspiration—for an iconic real-life Coca-Cola commercial—at an oceanside retreat in California. “‘Person to Person’ is true to the series that preceded it, paying respect to the previous 91 episodes, while also being as unpredictable and subversive as Mad Men always has been,” an IMDb review says. “[It] is an ending that understands everything that made Mad Men great.”
5. Season 5, Episode 11: “The Other Woman”
Peggy considers leaving the agency, Megan argues with Don about her acting career, and Joan (Christina Hendricks) faces pressure to sleep with a Jaguar executive to land the account. “Just when I thought that [creator] Matthew [Weiner] and his monumentally conscious collaborators could not outdo their previous efforts, they knock me in the head with a triple play like this,” one fan writes on IMDb.
4. Season 5, Episode 12: “Commissions and Fees”
A forged check reveals Lane’s (Jared Harris) fraud and forces his resignation, but his coworkers don’t realize the depths of his despair until it’s too late. “Overall, a superb episode, setting us all up for the season finale, as well as for Season 6,” a reviewer says. “The turmoil continues.”
3. Season 7, Episode 7: “Waterloo”
Against the backdrop of the Apollo 11 landing, Don learns he’s out of a job, Roger negotiates an acquisition by McCann-Erickson, and Bert (Robert Morse) exits the picture with a song and dance. “Mad Men certainly cemented its greatness years ago, but how is it that in its seventh season, it still manages to outperform all other shows on TV?” asks one awestruck IMDb user.
2. Season 3, Episode 13: “Shut the Door. Have a Seat.”
Roger, Bert, and Don wrangle back control of their professional destiny in the Season 3 finale by having Lane assist them in starting a new firm, and thus, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is born. Meanwhile, on the homefront, Don and Betty navigate a divorce. “What a hell of an episode you’re about to enjoy,” one fan tells fellow IMDb users. “I just love this show.”
1. Season 4, Episode 7: “The Suitcase”
In No. 7 of TV Insider’s 10 Best Episodes of the 21st Century, Don and Peggy’s relationship takes a (temporary) turn as he holds her captive in an all-night Samsonite brainstorm—as he’s dealing with devastating news about the wife of the real Don Draper. A fan writes that this bottle episode “showed both Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss at their finest acting, and their amazing chemistry really comes through.”